Tuesday, June 28, 2011

What More Could One Ask For?

Images: Garrincha
By Boris Gonzales Arenas

Soon we'll have
according to our president
five-year terms
with an extension pending.

Raul said so after
meditating before the sewer
“there must be urgent changes
will two hundred years be enough?”

My uncle in Carlos III,
a descendent of slaves,
made a sure gesture,
that it itches and spreads. 

“It’s difficult to predict
when the bosses will get fed up
or when a sleeping people
will become enraged."
Watch, watch... see if you can guess where I have the change you want... Watch...

"They will add hovels
swarming the slums
and thousands of dissidents
judged as criminals"

"From the parading tanks
they will remove the treads
and put modern tires,
the war will be on the pavement.”

A group that philosophizes
doesn’t understand so much fallacy
thus it was named
it was called copropraxia.

While waiting
I drink my coffee
mixed with peas and beans
they will leave me without it

And at the end of all this
-- this poet asks --
through which sacred slot
do we shove them the ballot.

21 June 2011

Wednesday, June 15, 2011


Photo: Lía Villares
Everyone has their sillinesses, their addictions, their moments of relaxation. There are those who watch three soap operas simultaneously, others spend a great part of the day with their ears glued to the phone, and many--they tell me--would give an arm and a leg to be connected to the Internet twenty-four-seven; the latter suffer from an illness called “geographic misfortune.”  For my part, I don’t like soap operas, I have no time to talk on the phone, and of course, even if I wanted to, the Internet is a kind of platonic and impossible love I’ve longed for, for many years. I plan my Sundays punctiliously. As my mother says, “rain or shine” at half past nine in the evening I plop myself in front of the TV to watch the one series that interests me: CSI at the scene of the crime. It’s all the same to me if it’s in New York or Las Vegas, I’m an indisputable fan.

Last Sunday, five minutes late and remorseful for having missed the opening scene, I turned on the screen. I love it all: the music, the script, the characters and the technology they use. Can you imagine my face--it’s a shame I was alone--when instead of hearing the theme music by U2 that opens each episode, along with fast-paced editing, I find some sepia images and a Cuban cop, billy club and all, on the screen? At the same time, on the same channel, they decided to substitute for CSI a program called “In the footsteps,” a pathetic series produced by the Ministry of the Interior, all rights reserved and everything.

Beyond disappointing all the viewers--because the difference in quality between the two programs would be, lets say, the same as that between Playita 16, a rough little stretch of sand, rocks and concrete along the waterfront here in Havana, and the world-class beaches of the resorts of Varadero--they must be unaware of their own limitations.  Perhaps some standard-bearer could offer a phrase from Jose Marti: “Our wine is bitter but it’s our wine.” (I’d like to offer a joke, “Our wine is bitter, they must import it.”) But humility is also an exercise of intelligence and, obviously, is one of the virtues lacking at the Interior Ministry.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Floating in Nothingness

Yoani Sanchez
I have no desire to write. I scold myself. Since I learned that Coco Fariñas is on a hunger strike I have been floating above the city. I can’t even call him on the phone and only yesterday I managed to send him a message. I’m a coward. I hope I’m wrong, but I feel that at the Central Committee of the Communist Party they’re keeping a bottle of champagne, planning to pop the cork if he dies.

I spend my nights in front of the TV. I alternate between “The Halfway House” by Guillermo Rosales and the potato harvest. At times I have the impression that my life is one of the dreams of Rosales’ character William Figueras, where he was always Fidel Castro. I change the channel obsessively but always end up at the News or the Roundtable. Between Machado Ventura saying we need to end illegal housing in reserved zones (reserved for what? I wonder) and an ad about semi-mechanized agriculture (i.e. a peasant with a yoke of oxen) I can't contain my nausea.

I have a presentiment about the doctors’ statements--the cynicism and double standards of fear--false statements about the patient’s condition, the expense accounts of the intensive care wards, the lies about a criminal past, in short, a media lynching. I imagine us so small against the wall that sometimes I can’t breathe. Every day in the street someone says to me just a little bit longer and makes a joke, it’s the only thing that gives me the strength to go on.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

The Race

Photo: Leandro Feal
It happened in 1990 when he was seven. The world, although not perfect, was innocent and playful. His parents were doctors, working night and day and surviving badly during those hard years at the beginning of the Special Period. Many criticize only children and the personalities we develop as adults and he, in the end the only son, enjoyed all the love and mischief at home. In the mornings, Mom made breakfast and got him out of bed, Dad adjusted the seat of the Chinese model 28 bicycle and with the morning dew still on the grass, one left for the school and the other for the hospital.

At night the company alternated depending on the shifts: with Mom he read stories and with Dad he played on the floor. Sometimes in the middle of the night he would wake up at the sound of lock and see one of his parents arrive home in a white coat, bike in tow. Other times they pulled him out of bed at dawn to give him a goodnight kiss, having come home after three in the morning.

One night his father didn’t come home. It was nearly dawn when they received a call from the hospital: he was dead. It’s difficult to take in mortality at seven, but even worse to know the story of an absurd death. It turned out Dad was coming home on his bicycle on 26th, while some boys, untouched by the collapse of the Cuban economy, were racing their fathers’ Ladas along the Avenue. The cars racing full speed took the life of a man who had spent the night saving lives. The death was swift.

The culprits went to trial--oh yes!-- except for one small detail: they were acquitted of all charges, keeping their drivers’ licenses and everything. Perhaps they were not only children, but their parents had been given the task of spoiling them, and took pleasure in converting them into “The Sons,” the untouchables, those who can actually trumpet their races from one end of the island to the other and never pay for anything. People call them “Daddy’s children,” and compared to them, the myth of the only child is nothing.